Season Preview: Arsenal

Last updated : 10 August 2009 By Sammy Mooner

How did you fare last season?
As per usual we had the sort of season that some clubs can only dream about, but by our standards it really wasn't all that. We had an FA Cup semi final which we blew because we were seemingly focused on the Champions League. But when it came right down to it we were stuffed by United in the Champions League semi final anyway, a most unpleasant experience. Our Champions League place for 2009-10 was under threat for a while and our freewheeling quality football went missing in too many games. Definitely not a season to remember.

How do you expect you'll do this season?
The jury is out. With Arshavin available for a full season and Eduardo likely to be back as well our future looks good, but we've already lost Nasri and Rosicky to pre-season injuries. Adebayor going to Citeh was no loss because what he did best last season was to get caught offside and mope around up front counting his money. Much will depend upon if and how we spend the money we've blagged from Citeh and if we don't tighten up in midfield and at the back we'll be even worse than last season.

What have you done in the transfer market this summer? Which of your new signings are you expecting most from?
At the time of writing we've only made one: namely Vermaelen, our Belgium centre back who until recently was captain of Ajax. But given that Eduardo was out for an entire season and will seem like a new signing I'll plump with our Crozillian to shine this coming term.

Where do you think you'll need to strengthen in the January transfer window?
Too early to tell and it depends entirely on further purchases we may make in the current Summer window, which last time out (with Andrey Arshavin) occurred round about midnight on the transfer deadline day.

Have you any promising youngsters breaking into the team?
Promising youngsters: no. Really excellent youngsters: yes. We have a long queue of fantastic kids who are already good enough to play for Mexico, England under 21's, and under 19's, Spain's under 19's, Netherlands's under 19's, France's under 19's and 21's. They won the FA Youth Cup last season and play stunning football the Wenger way.

The pick of the lot is a 17-year-old by the name of Jack Wilshere who, all being well, looks set to become a full England International before his 20th birthday and may turn out to be as good if not better than Cesc Fabregas.

These kids will form the core of our Carling Cup team as is the norm for Arsenal.

Have you got the right man in charge of the team? Will he still be there at the end of the season?
I happen to think the answers are yes to both questions. But Arsene Wenger has upped expectations so much since arriving that some of our more impatient fans are now disgruntled about results, that's to say the lack of recent major silverware. Bringing on the youths and spending money wisely is something Wenger does well, but spending more money more often on world class players is what many would prefer.

Is the club being run well? Are you likely to be singing 'Sack the board' any time soon?
Our board's personnel has changed in recent years. The in-fighting between the major shareholders has caused a few flutters and bit of unrest so the possibility of a take-over bid is possibly on the increase. But to buy all the shares in our Club will cost the purchaser an absolute minimum of £450 million so if anyone succeeds in a buyout at least we'll know they'll either be fairly well off or have a great credit line. With our setup sacking the board is not an option because they already sack each other, and if any choose to sell up they'll just be even richer individuals than they already are. Unfortunately the chances of any of them putting their hands in their own pockets for new players like Abramovich or Citeh's owners do are about nil.

Which team do you most want to beat and why?
We always, but always want to beat Spurs because the chip on their shoulder gets bigger every season. We want to give Chelski a good hiding because these London upstarts are totally lacking in both class and history. We want to trounce United because we're one of the few teams capable of doing so. But beating any big club on the way to another Champions League Cup Final would be seriously cool and possibly far more preferable.

Who do you think will win the league?
I suspect it will either be the Chavs by quite a margin, because they seem to have the strongest squad, or it will be a very close run thing between the usual suspects. Don't rule out Arsenal but then again don't put your shirt on us.

Who do you think's going down?
Not something we usually concern ourselves about, but I suspect Hull City will be amongst the prime candidates because without the sort of tearaway start that you got last season you've a chance of being in the dogfight all season long. As will, I hope, McLeish's Brummy thugs and the tediously one-dimensional Stoke. But I suspect the fast declining Pompey will also feature along with the other new boys Wolves and Burnley, as seems to be the norm.

How do you think Hull City will fare this season?
Not many decent players it seems are keen to join a club where the manager berates his players on the pitch. Can't think why not. So how you fare may depend on just how lunatic your demented manager acts this season or if you can persuade a really decent goalscorer to move to Humberside. Just for the record Orange Phil polled 67% of all the votes cast in this season's Annual Gooner's Survey for the most despised Premiership manager, a thoroughly deserved accolade in my opinion. Get rid of him and Horton and you could well have the pick of an orderly queue of half decent out of work mangers who are all looking for any top flight club.

Overall I suspect your chances of staying up are maybe 50-50, which looking on the bright side is at least better odds than you could have got at the start of last season. Good luck, I suspect you'll need it.

Sammy Mooner writes for The Gooner magazine and website

Click here to read what Sammy said at the end of last season about how Arsenal got on in 2008/09.